SelectOne Blog

Active Candidates – Stack the Odds in Your Favor

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In our industry, “active" candidates are comprised of people taking some kind of proactive action to look for something new; this can include checking job boards and applying to jobs, working with staffing companies and executive search firms, and sending their resume through network connections.  

The “passive” candidate pool is basically comprised of everyone else, including those who aren’t even considering leaving their current employer.  When working with active candidates, we get the question, “am I doing everything I should be doing to find a new job?” all the time.  It may be one of the most frequent non-interview related questions we hear.

 We tell our team members and candidates to do their best to control the things they can – increase accessibility to information, leverage strong relationships, take calculated risks – and good outcomes will follow.  

To that end, here are the best tips we recommend to active job seekers aimed at increasing the likelihood of taking a good step forward:

Increase Accessibility to Information

Make Jobs Come to You!  If you’re searching for a new job, and every day or week you have to remember to carve out time to search for jobs, and remember what job boards and company sites to go to, the bottom line is you probably won’t do it consistently unless you’re really under the gun.  So make life easy by setting up automated job alerts on Indeedor Zip Recruiter.  Indeed is a job aggregator, which means an overwhelming majority of openings posted to a variety of sites (job boards, company websites, etc) in a market will be scraped into their site.  Zip Recruiter is used by many companies and firms to blast jobs out to many specialized job boards and websites. Set up a few recurring searches with relevant zip codes and job titles, or even targeting specific companies, which can then be sent automatically via email daily, weekly, or monthly.  Now you won’t have to even think to do this – the info will be at your fingertips when you want and need it.  Aside from bringing specific job opening information, this will also begin to provide a broader sense of the market and recurring skill and level needs, which is highly useful to any active job seeker.

Leverage Strong Relationships

Work Your Network!  Hesitancy to reach out to key relationships during an active job search can seriously impede any meaningful progress.  On the other hand, spamming entire email distribution lists is an impersonal way of alienating valued contacts. Strike a balance by putting together a list of relationships most likely to yield connections to the right type of opportunities – this can be predicated on the strength of relationship, industry or profession they’re in relative to yours, and/or knowledge of close connections they have that you’d like to access.  Reach out to these people via the most appropriate medium, with a general rule of thumb being to initiate contact using the form you’ve used with this person most commonly in the past.  Mutual trust and rapport are important in this context – reaching out to people who can proudly and happily connect you to someone of value will yield a much better result than making asks of folks that render them uncomfortable because they simply don’t know you well enough.

Work With Search Firms You Trust!  Again, that word trust.  Establishing a mutual sense of trust and rapport with a search firm or staffing company is a very important component of a job search.  If I were looking for a job and working through an agency as part of my search, I know for certain I’d want both the recruiter and firm to have strong relationships with their clients and candidates predicated on shared values and ethical business practices.  This doesn’t mean you should only work with one firm, it merely means you should only give your resume to firms you trust to present you properly to the marketplace and shoot straight about opportunities and companies.

Take Calculated Risks

Actually Consider New Opportunities!  This seems pretty common sense; you can’t get a new job if you don’t consider, apply, and accept a new position.  However, there are countless times when we have active candidates who approach us to look for something new but view every opportunity with extreme apprehension. Thinking critically about, researching, and asking detailed questions about found or presented opportunities are completely advisable and best practices.  But, it’s nearly impossible to figure out if a company or opportunity is good from a mere job posting or one five-minute conversation with a recruiter – this is only the tip of the iceberg.  If there’s even a small chance it could be something good (and you’re qualified – see the next point), check it out.  The risk of checking it out is wasting an hour or two in a pointless interview.  The risk of not throwing your hat in the ring is unquantifiable – you could unknowingly be walking away from your dream job.

Apply To Companies And Jobs That Fit! Again – seems like common sense.  But often times we’ll work with active candidates who have blanketed large companies with their resume, often times applying to multiple positions on different teams and departments, at different levels, when their qualifications simply aren’t closely aligned enough with the requirements of the role.  This can have a damaging effect, as larger companies with internal talent acquisition departments can quickly become desensitized to even a skilled profile when it’s sent over and over again for jobs that just don’t fit.  Walking a fine line between applying to enough roles where qualifications are substantially met and applying to too many where level and skills are a bit of a stretch is important to leveraging a successful search as a candidate.

Beware Counteroffers When Leaving!  Check out our previous blog on Fear of Change and Counteroffers – we dedicated a whole post to this topic because we see it so often practiced.  There are so many inputs factoring into the reasons one becomes an active job seeker aside from compensation.  Often times compensation is indeed a factor, but only one of many.  And so the question becomes, what is the price of your job and career satisfaction?  Furthermore, if you were worth 10% more to the company you’re considering departing just because you got an offer from a new company, is that the type of decision making process and context that will bolster your career?  You can’t steal second base with your foot securely planted on first; of course there’s a risk of leaving the known for the unknown.  Make sure you surround yourself with a couple of key advisors who objectively understand your situation and can keep you focused on what you value when the rubber hits the road.

“Success is not a random act.  It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.” (Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success).  Be armed with information, leverage the right relationships, and ultimately, be willing to take a chance by betting on yourself.  This strategy greatly increases the odds of being in a position to get lucky; in the case of an active job seeker, creating optimum context and circumstance to drive luck into opportunity.

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